English Prefixes: List of Prefixes with Meanings and Examples 1

English Prefixes: List of Prefixes with Meanings and Examples

Learn the useful list of prefixes in English with their meanings and examples!

Table of Contents

What Is A Prefix?

English prefixes are affixes (i.e., bound morphemes that provide lexical meaning) that are added before either simple roots or complex bases (or operands) consisting of (a) a root and other affixes, (b) multiple roots, or (c) multiple roots and other affixes. Examples of these follow:

  • Undo (consisting of prefix un- and root do)
  • Untouchable (consisting of prefix un-, root touch, and suffix -able)
  • Non-childproof (consisting of prefix non-, root child, and root proof)
  • Non-childproofable (consisting of prefix non-, root child, root proof, and suffix -able)

English words may consist of multiple prefixes: anti-pseudo-classicism (containing both an anti- prefix and a pseudo- prefix).

In English, all prefixes are derivational. This contrasts with English suffixes, which may be either derivational or inflectional.

English Prefixes

English prefixes Meanings Examples
a- verb > predicative adjective with progressive aspect afloat, atremble
a- not acyclic, asexual, atonal, atheist
anti- against, opposite anti-freeze, antivirus, anticlimax, Antichrist
arch- supreme, highest, worst arch-rival, archangel
be- equipped with, covered with, beset with (pejorative or facetious) bedeviled, becalm, bedazzle, bewitch
co- joint, with, accompanying co-worker, coordinator, cooperation
counter- against, in opposition to counteract, counterpart
de- reverse action, get rid of de-emphasize
dis- not, opposite of disloyal, disagree
dis- reverse action, get rid of disconnect, disinformation
en-/em- to make into, to put into, to get into enmesh, empower
ex- former ex-husband, ex-boss, ex-colleague, ex-friend
fore- before, in front forearm, forehead, forehand, forerunner
hind- after hindsight, hindquarters
mal- bad(ly) malnourish, maladjusted
mid- middle midstream, midlife
midi- medium-sized midi-length
mini- small minimarket, mini-room, minivan
mis- wrong, astray misinformation, misguide, misfortune
out- better, faster, longer, beyond outreach, outcome
over- excessive, above overreact, overact, overbearing
post- after, behind post-election, post-graduation, post-war
pre- before prevent, previous, pre-election, pre-enter, pre-select
pro- for, forward, in favor of propulsion, propound, pro-life
re- again, back redo, revisit, rerun, reorganize
self- self self-sufficient, self-explanatory
step- family relation by remarriage stepbrother, stepmother
trans- across, from one place to another transatlantic, transSiberian
twi- two twibill, twilight
un- not, against, opposite of unnecessary, unequal, undesirable, unhappy
un- reverse action, deprive of, release from undo, untie, unexpected, unlock
under- below, beneath, lower in grade/dignity, lesser, insufficient underachieve, underground, underpass, underdeveloped, underrated
up- greater, higher, or better upgrade, uplift, upsurge
with- against, back, away (from) withstand, withcall
Afro- relating to Africa Afro-American, Afro-Caribbean
ambi- both ambidextrous, ambitendency
amphi- around, two, both, on both sides amphiaster, amphitheatre, amphibian
an-/a- not, without anemic, asymmetric
ana-, an- up, against anacardiaceous, anode
Anglo- relating to England Anglo-Norman, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-American
ante- before antenatal, antechamber, antecedent
anti- opposite, against antivenom
apo-, ap- away from, detached aphelion, apogee, apomorphine
astro- star astrobiology, astrology, astronomy
auto- self autobiography, automatic, autonomy,
bi- two bicycle, biped
bio- life, biological biology
circum- around, surrounding circumnavigate
cis- on this side of cislunar
con-/com-/col-/cor-/co- together or with confederation, commingle, colleague, correlation, cohabit
contra- opposite contradict, contraindication
cryo- ice cryogenics
crypto- hidden, secret cryptography
de- down depress, descend
demi- half demigod
demo- people democracy, demography
deuter- second deuteragonist, deuterogamy
di- two dicotyledon, digamy, dioxide
dia- through dialysis, diameter
dis-/di-/dif- apart differ, dissect, divide
du-/duo- two dual, duet
eco- ecological ecosystem
electro- electric, electricity electro-analysis, electromagnetic
en-, el-, em- in ellipsis, emphasis, energetic
epi-, ep- upon, at, close upon, in addition ephemeron, epicentre, epidermis
Euro- European Eurocentric
ex- out of exit, expel, explode, exploit, explore, export
extra- outside extracurricular
Franco- French, France Francophile, Franco-British, Franco-German
geo- relating to the earth or its surface geography, geology, geometry
gyro- spinning on an axis gyrocopter, gyroscope, gyrosphere
hetero- different heterosexual
hemi- half hemimorphic, hemisphere
homo- same homogenous, homologous
hydro- relating to water, or using water hydroelectricity, hydrant
hyper- above, over hyperthermia
hypo- under or below something, low hypothermia
ideo- image, idea ideograph, ideaology
idio- individual, personal, unique idiolect, idiopathic
in- in, into insert, include
Indo- relating to the Indian subcontinent Indo-European
in-, il-, im-, ir- not, opposite of illicit, impossible, inexact, irregular
infra- below, beneath infrared
inter- among, between interact, intercede, international
intra- inside, within intravenous
iso- equal isochromatic, isotherm
macr- long macrobiotic
maxi- very long, very large maxi-skirt
mega-, megalo- great, large megastar, megalopolis
meta- after, along with, beyond, among, behind metabolism, metaphysics
micro- small microbacillus
mono-, mon- sole, only monogamy, monotone, monosyllabic
multi-, mult- many multicultural, multi-storey, multitude
neo- new neolithic, neoclassical
non- not nonexistent
omni- all omnipotent, omnipresent, omnivore
ortho- correcting or straightening orthodontics, orthotropic
paleo- old paleolithic
pan- all, worldwide pan-African, pandemic, panorama
para- beside, beyond parallel, paranormal
ped- foot pedal, pedestrian
per- through, completely, wrongly, exceedingly permeate, permute
peri- around, near or adjacent perihelion, periphrase
photo- light photoelectric, photography
pod- foot podiatrist
poly- many polygon, polyhedron
post- after postfix, postpone, postscript
pre- before predict, prepare, preview
preter- beyond, past, more than preternatural
pro- for, substitute, deputy proconsul
pro- before procambium
pros- toward prosthesis
proto- first, original protoplasm, prototype
pseudo- false, imitation pseudonym
pyro- fire pyrokinetic, pyrotechnic
quasi- partly, almost, appearing to be but not really quasi-religious
retro- backwards retrograde
semi- half semicircle
socio- society, social, sociological sociopath
sub-, sup- below, under submarine, subterranean, suburban, support
super- above, over supervisor, superintendent
supra- above, over suprarenal
sur- above, over surreal, surrender
syn-, sy-, syl-, sym- together, with syllable, symbol, synthesis, system
tele- at a distance telegraph, telephone, telescope, television
trans- over, through, across transverse
tri- three tricycle, tripartite
ultra- beyond ultramagnetic, ultrasonic, ultraviolet
uni- one, consisting of only one unicycle, universal
vice- deputy vice-president, vice-principal, vice-admiral